On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," Truth Barbeque pitmaster-owner Leonard Botello IV joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss his Washington Avenue restaurant that opened in January. Already ranked 10th by Texas Monthly for his original location in Brenham, the Houston Truth has quickly emerged as one of the city's best barbecue joints.
The conversation touches on a number of topics, staring with the charity dinner that Truth will host Wednesday, November 13 on behalf of No Kid Hungry; in addition to Botello, the meal will feature courses prepared by chefs Nick Wong (UB Preserv), Bobby Matos (State of Grace, La Lucha), Rebecca Masson (Fluff Bake Bar), and Feges BBQ owners Erin Smith and Patrick Feges. Tickets are available for $175.
From there, the discussion moves to Truth's evolution since opening in Houston. Botello once smoked every piece of meat he served, but the larger spaces means the self-described "control freak" has had to train a full staff that can execute his vision. Building that team allows him both the opportunity to travel to food events across the country and to contemplate opening a new restaurant.
"I like the intimacy of smaller places. If you can't get in somewhere, that's where somebody wants to go eat, and it's more fun when you're closer together and the food is great. I always thought it'd be fun to have something like that," Botello says. "My brother finishes at the Culinary Institute in August. Hopefully, we'll be able to do something . . . I'm not going to say it will be barbecue."
Prior to the interview, Sandler and Felice Sloan of Swanky Maven discuss the news of the week. Their topics include: the sudden closure of Steel City Pops, Oporto owners Shiva and Rick Di Virgilio's plans to open a new restaurant and wine bar in The Heights; and the openings of Tejas Burger Joint and The Waffle Bus.
In the restaurant of the week segment, they share first impressions of Traveler's Table, the newly opened Montrose restaurant that serves dishes from around the world. While some early reviews have rejected the global approach, Sandler and Sloan found much to like about their meal.